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Amazon.com, Inc. is an American company founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994. The company sells books, hardware, groceries, apparel, and millions of other products, as well as online services such as instant video, streaming music, and its own branded entertainment on its retail websites. Amazon has both a United States and international arm, and is known for the Kindle e-reader and the Fire smartphone.
Amazon UK sends letters to customers recalling Segways after at least ten incidents of hoverboard-related fires and explosions across nine states due to faulty battery plugs. Owners are urged to take the scooters to certified disposal locations, and will receive a full refund for the purchase.
Amazon files suit against 1,114 people it claims used Fiverr offered to write glowing reviews of titles, for as little as $5, to help boost sales on behalf of unscrupulous authors or sellers. The company posed as would-be customers on Fiverr and purchased fake customer reviews from those promising five-star ratings and offered to let the purchaser write the review themselves. The users then use fake identities and IP addresses to post the reviews. Amazon is not targetting Fiverr itself, and says both companies are working to resolve the issue.
Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.
In an e-mail to its marketplace sellers, Amazon says it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t “interact well” with Prime Video. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29. Roku Inc.’s set-top device, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation, which work with Amazon’s video service, aren’t affected.
Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at [email protected] Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero…The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company. But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.
The New York Timespublishes an article titled, Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace, that talks about difficult working conditions at Amazon.
At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)
To celebrate 20 years since its website opened, on July 15, Amazon will have a massive sale involving one of its most successful businesses — Amazon Prime. Prime Day, will feature thousands of deals for Amazon Prime members — more deals than on popular shopping day Black Friday. Deals will be introduced throughout the day beginning at midnight, sometimes as often as every 10 minutes. Prime Day will also feature a photo contest to pair with Prime Photo, a relatively new photo-storage service. Customers can submit photos of how Prime saves them time for the chance to win a $10,000 gift card. Amazon also commissioned artists across the world to showcase #PrimeLiving. The Company may make Prime Day into an annual evnt.
According to a patent that the company submitted in September 2014, Amazon’s delivery drones will be able to update their routes in real time by tracking the location of the recipient by pulling data from their smartphone, as well as talking to each other about weather and traffic conditions. Winning patent approval does not mean that the final product will be exactly as described or that it will become reality.
The Company announces the Dash Button, for Amazon Prime customers, who can place the device on the wall and tap to automatically order or re-order more than a dozen products such as Tide detergent, Bounty paper towels, and Clorox wipes. The buttons are available to Prime customers immediately for free. Due to the timing of the launch, the company insists the product is not an April Fools’ joke:
With its team of roboticists, software engineers, aeronautics experts, and remote sensing experts, Amazon is testing delivery drones at a secret site in Canada. Amazon plans to fly autonomous drones ten miles or longer at 50mph while carrying payloads that weigh up to 5lbs. Amazon wants to offer customers a delivery-by-drone service, called Prime Air, that will deliver packages within thirty minutes after an order is placed.
We think that this new technology will provide huge benefits for our customers, who we think will love it, and for society more broadly.
Amazon opens its first brick-and-mortar store on the campus of Purdue University. The store allows students to pick up items they order via Amazon Student when it is convenient for them. Paul Ryder, vice president of media and student programs at Amazon:
[It is] a convenient and secure spot for them to pick up their stuff at hours that work with their schedules.
Amazon introduces a new mobile app, Prime Now, providing one or two hour delivery service on thousands of items such as paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries. The service will initially be available only in Manhattan, though Amazon said it hopes to roll it out to additional cities in 2015. SVP of worldwide operations, Dave Clark:
There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go. There are so many reasons to skip the trip, and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less.
Users of the Kindle Scout program will be able to vote for up to three titles a day that they want to see published after reading excerpts of the books. Publishing won’t be entirely decided by voting. Amazon:
[The] nominations give us an idea of which books readers think are great; the rest is up to the Kindle Scout team who then reviews books for potential publication.
Amazon reports a wider-than-expected loss in the third quarter, and gives a disappointing holiday forecast. Net loss for the quarter was $437 million, or 95 cents a share, far steeper than the loss of 76 cents a share analysts were expecting. Revenue jumped 20% to $20.6 billion but was also short of expectations. Amazon expects holiday quarter revenue of $27.3 billion and $30.3 billion, below analyst expectations of $30.9 billion. The 7%-18% rise compares with 20% a year earlier. One cause is its launches of new product lines like the Fire phone, which needed a steep price cut after launch – it took a charge of $170 million related to ‘inventory evaluation and supplier commitment costs’ for Fire, and has about $83 million of Fire inventory at the end of the quarter.
In a Supreme Court hearing that could determine the terms for employee pay, Amazon workers argue they should be compensated for the 25 minutes both ways it takes to go through security checkpoints. The case is part of a class-action lawsuit filed against companies like Amazon and includes over 400,000 plaintiffs about the meaning of a 1947 law that stipulates a company need not pay for “preliminary” and “postliminary” activities performed by employees, but only for the necessary functions that pertain to their jobs during working hours. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is doubtful over agreeing with the workers:
I mean, what makes it Amazon? It’s a system of inventory control that betters everybody else in the business. And what’s really important to Amazon is that it knows where every toothbrush in the warehouse is.
Supreme Court Justice Scalia disagrees:
Getting yourself inspected as you leave the place of business is not part of the job . . .
Shares in five companies related to Alibaba end mixed on its debut trading day. Alibaba part-owner Yahoo closes down 3% after gaining 20% over the previous few months while SoftBank Corp., another major Alibaba shareholder, loses 1%. U.S. e-commerce rival Amazon ends 2% higher after an analyst raises his price target on the stock, EBay falls 0.5% and JD.com closes down 4%.
Amazon announces the $99 Kindle Fire HD 6. The six-inch tablet can be pre-ordered now, with US deliveries excepted to ship next month. The release dates for the UK and Australia are not being revealed at this time. The tablet comes in several colors, and with a six-inch screen it is one of the smallest tablets currently available. It has a 1,280 x 800 full-HD resolution screen (252 pixels per inch) and comes with 8GB of memory. A 16GB version is also available for $119.
Amazon Fire TV will launch in the UK in October 2014 and in the US in April 2015.
We think that the products that are out there – and we sell a lot of them on Amazon – just haven’t offered customers the value that we think you can, and this is an existence proof that you can put a lot of horsepower and performance into a box, at a great value.
Amazon announces it will broadcast all ten episodes of Soloway’s dark comedy Transparent September 26thon Prime Instant Video. Solloway:
I am beyond excited to share Transparent with the world through Amazon. They’ve been so supportive through this incredible process. Artistically, it’s been a dream come true. I absolutely got to make the show I wanted to make.
The show stars Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker, and Jay Duplass. The show follows the lives of a Los Angeles family as they deal with the secrets they have kept from each other. Viewers can watch the pilot for free on Amazon Instant Video.
Amazon debuts its third pilot season, three comedy series and two hour-long thrillers. Viewers can watch the pilots for free on Amazon Instant Video. Based on viewer comments and feedback, Amazon will greenlight selected shows to be made into an Amazon Original Series. The comedies are The Cosmopolitans, Really, and Red Oaks, and the thriller pilots are Hand of God and Hysteria. Roy Price:
We’re delighted to bring Amazon customers the work of these passionate and talented creators and are excited to get customer feedback. It’s an exciting time at Prime Instant Video, with new, original shows coming to the service every month for the rest of the year.
Amazon acquires Twitch, the live stream video gaming site, for over $1 billion after Google withdraws from the purchase. The deal includes a cash pay of $970 million, nearly 20 percent of Amazon’s reserve revealed in the latest quarterly report. Amazon now owns a “YouTube” type platform with the ability to reach the young men. During 2013, over half of the total viewership watched video game playing for 20 hours weekly. Bezos:
Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of games each month.
Amazon introduces new Card Reader through a company based out of Seattle. There are options to bundle the software with the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s Fire Smartphone as well as other options such as receipt printers and cash drawers available for purchase. Merchants app is available both for iPhone and iPad as well as some Android devices and can be found in the app store. The physical card reading device is available for purchase from Amazon for $10.
We want to make accepting payments so easy and inexpensive that it no longer gets in the way of a business owner doing what they love — serving their customers and growing their business.
Amazon unveils a new card payment service for businesses to transact purchases. Registration for Amazon Local Register is available through its mobile app. The iOS and Android versions of the app are free for download. Rivaling Square, which delivers a similar service, businesses can accept credit or debit card transactions with the use of a card reader ($10) available on Amazon’s website. Using the same technology that powers purchases on Amazon.com, the online retailer receives 2.5% of each payment. Amazon says merchants will be credited $10 to offset the cost of the reader. Money is collected through the service is available on the next business day.
Amazon will invest an additional $2 billion in India to support its growth in the country. Amazon has scaled up rapidly in the country since its launch in June last year. The company has heavily invested in logistics and marketing and has created a network of warehouses across the country. It now sells over 17 million products across 28 categories and hosts about 8,500 merchants on its marketplace.
Amazon launches Annedroids — its third original programming for kids series. The show revolves around a kid scientist Anne and her human and non-human friends, including a genderless robot negotiating “boy” and “girl” roles. Created by J.J. Johnson and Sinking Ship Entertainment, the series is produced by Amazon Studios, the company’s in-house production company:
[the show] organically showcases the STEAM (Science & Technology interpreted through Engineering & the Arts) curriculum by way of a ‘secret garden’ of science, a junkyard environment where it’s not unusual to see a 16-foot claw-like android helping an 11-year-old kid scientist harness lightning to power up her latest invention – and that’s just episode 1!
A user on the message board Kboards finds a page on Amazon’s website about a program called Kindle Unlimited, which offers unlimited ebooks from participating publishers for $9.99 per month. Amazon removes the page from its website, but a cache is saved on Google, which says:
Enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.
After France bans free shipping of books, Amazon raises it shipping price from free to $0.01 Euros, which is one penny. In an FAQ for their shoppers, Amazon explains:
We are unfortunately no longer allowed to offer free deliveries for book orders. We have therefore fixed delivery costs at one centime per order containing books and dispatched by Amazon to systematically guarantee the lowest price for your book orders.
Amazon announces Zocalo, a business-oriented document sharing and storage service. Users can upload files and choose who has access to them within an organization. They can also set a deadline for when the user(s) they send it to should provide feedback on the document. The service costs $5 per month per user and offers each person 200 GB of storage.
The FTC sues Amazon after the company disregards warnings that they need to require a password for in-app purchases so they cannot accidentally be bought by kids or users who are not aware they cost real money:
Amazon has received thousands of complaints related to unauthorized in-app charges by children in these and other games, amounting to millions of dollars of charges. In many instances, parents have complained that their children could not or did not understand that their activities while playing the app could result in charges that cost real money. Amazon has received thousands of complaints related to unauthorized in-app charges by children in these and other games, amounting to millions of dollars of charges.
Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use Amazon Prime Air drones to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. The aircraft can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry loads of up to 5 pounds. The Company says, about 86 percent of Amazon’s deliveries are 5 pounds or less. The FAA allows hobbyists and model aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use is mostly banned. Amazon is asking for an exemption so it can test its drones only over Amazon’s private property, away from airports or areas with aviation activity —and not in densely populated areas or near military bases.
We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so.
Amazon sends a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration asking if they can have special permission to test their delivery drones outside of the six sites approved for drone testing in the country. They say they will be able to improve the technology more quickly if they can test them close to their headquarters in Seattle:
Current FAA rules allow hobbyists and manufacturers of model aircraft wide latitude in flying their sUAS [Small Unmanned Aerial Systems] outdoors. Because Amazon is a commercial enterprise we have been limited to conducting R&D flights indoors or in other countries. Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States by conducting private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle.
Amazon resists a request by the Federal Trade Commission to require a password for in-app purchases using their application store. They say they are willing to go to court over this issue. A FTC spokesperson says:
The commission is focused on ensuring that companies comply with the fundamental principle that consumers should not be made to pay for something they did not authorize.
However, Amazon claims in a letter to the FTC that they refund applications purchased accidentally:
When customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn’t want, we refunded those purchases.
Amazon adds another series to its original children’s programming produced by Amazon Studios. Creative Galaxy, from Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue, relies on the premise that art is part of our everyday lives. Available to stream on Amazon Instant Video, the first six episodes are free for Amazon Prime subscribers. The show tells the story of space travellers Art and Epiphany who journey the galaxy making art to fix the problems they face. At the end of each show, a live-action featurette allows parents and children to learn how to make the crafts featured in each episode.
In tandem with its dispute with publishing companies, Amazon stops taking advance orders on select Warner Bros. videos, including Lego: The Movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire, Winter’s Tale, and Transcendence. Amazon has not commented on the dispute, but a spokesperson from Time Warner states:
It is general policy not to comment on contract terms or any other proprietary information having to do with our partners.
Amazon customers complain verbally on the site, that Lego: The Movie and other popular titles are not listed on Amazon’s “forthcoming list” and “Kids & Family” page. The dispute between Amazon and Time Warner will not be resolved until a new contract is agreed upon by both parties.
Amazon releasesTumble Leaf, its first original programming geared for kids. The first episode is free on Amazon Instant Video and the rest of the series are available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers. Targeted to preschoolers and their parents, the stop-motion animated show features a blue Fox named Fig, his sidekick Stick, and cohort Maple. They live on a ship dry docked adjacent to a beach and a green forest. Created by Drew Hodges and produced by Bix Pix Entertainment, the show is designed to promote “creative thinking and education through a world of adventure and play.”
Amazon debuts its second wave of pilot episodes available for streaming on Amazon Instant Video. The lineup includes a mix of comedy and drama pilots: Bosch, The After, Mozart in the Jungle, The Rebels, and Transparent. Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios:
With our previous set of pilots, customers submitted thousands of reviews within the first few days and more than 80 percent of those reviews were 4 and 5 stars. We collaborated with some of the very best creators in Hollywood — and even some new comers that submitted their show through our open door process — to bring customers a wide array of top-quality shows. This season we have something for everyone with a mix of comedy, drama and kids programming — we can’t wait to hear what customers think.
Viewers will rate their favorite pilots, and selected shows will be greenlit for a full-season distributed by Amazon Studios.
CBS and Amazon announce an exclusive licensing deal for the upcoming science fiction series. Amazon will be given exclusive rights to air the episodes online via their Prime service. Episodes will be available for streaming on the service four days after they premiere on Television. CBS:
Our partnership with Amazon for ‘Under the Dome’ helped build a creative, financial and marketing model for event television in the summer. We look forward to using the same model for Extant, a series whose creative auspices, on-screen talent and intriguing concept is already generating great excitement.
In an interview with 60 minutes host Charlie Rose Bezos reveals that the company has begun development on a drone delivery service to be called Amazon Prime Air:
It won’t work for everything. We’re not going to deliver kayaks or table saws this way.
When launched, customers will be able to order selected products and have them delivered to their doorsteps by a flying autonomous drone charted by exact GPS coordinates. According to Bezos, the drones will have been programmed with redundancies and reliability checks to prevent them from accidentally landing on someone’s head. Amazon says it will take the company “some number of years” to get the technology off the ground and gain FAA approval.
Amazon Studios releasesBetas, its second original comedy series. The show, along with Alpha House, won out among six other competing comedy pilots vetted by Amazon customers. Betas is about a group of awkward techies who want to create a dating app so they form a start-up in San Francisco. The show stars Ed Begley Jr., Joe Dinicol, Jon Daly, Maya Erskine, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni, and was created by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard. Slated to include eleven episodes in its first season, the first three episodes are available for free on Amazon Instant Video, but subsequent episodes will be released every week exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers.
The first season is about the fight for survival among incumbent Republican senators first elected in the pre-Tea Party era. Even though they’re all solidly conservative, three of the four senators living in Alpha House are facing strong primary challenges from the right. The struggle to hold onto their core values drives both the comedy and the drama in our show.
The show stars John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos. The first three episodes are free on Amazon Instant Video, but following its initial release each week new episodes will be added exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Amazon, through its Amazon Studios moniker, releases fourteen original pilots available for streaming on Amazon Instant Video. The pilots include a range of programming, from Betas, about a group of awkward techies trying to make it big in Silicon Valley, to Alpha House, about four Republican U.S. Senators who share a townhouse in Washington. It is the first time the online retailer has branched out into original programming, making it a competitor with Netflix (which also produces original content), HBO, and Showtime. Eight The pilots include a range of programming, from Betas, about a group of awkward techies trying to make it big in Silicon Valley, to Alpha House, about four Republican U.S. Senators who share a townhouse in Washington.of the shows are comedies, and six are geared for children. Anyone in the U.K., U.S., and Germany can watch the pilots for free, and based on user surveys Amazon will decide which shows are greenlit for a full series to be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers. Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios:
For the past year the Amazon Studios team has collaborated with some of the best actors and writers in Hollywood to produce top-quality shows. Now we’ve handed the remote to our customers to hear what they think.
Amazon announces it will acquire Goodreads, a website for book lovers to review and share good books they read. Goodreads, which has sixteen million members, will retains its San Francisco offices following the acquisition. Terms of the sale have not been disclosed. Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads, posts on the Goodreads blog:
Today I’m really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads. We arejoining the Amazon family. We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them.
According to Amazon, the site will be an independently owned subsidiary of Amazon and will control all editorial content and the recommendations. This is the second time Amazon has purchased a book recommendation website. In 2008, Amazon acquired Shelfari, and it also owns part of Library Thing.
Amazon says electronic books have surpassed traditional print book sales for the first time. The company accounts for about two thirds of e-book sales. The company reports that it sells 105 e-books for every 100 print books it sells, including books that do not have an electronic version. The figures include sales of Kindle Singles, short form content from magazine and newspaper articles. The company does not disclose its Kindle sales figures. Bezos:
We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly. We’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.
In a business venture to promote talent, and to develop new content, Amazon launches Amazon Studios. It’s an initiative from the online retailer to entice screenwriters and filmmakers to submit scripts for possible production under a “first-look deal” with Warner Bros. The company hopes to promote potential feature-length movies and to award $2.7 million to the top submissions. If an Amazon Studios feature is released, the creator receives a rights payment of $200,000, and if the movie makes more than $60 million U.S. dollars at the box office, the original creators will receive a bonus of $400,000. Roy Price, Director of Digital Product Development:
Full-length test movies will show stories up on their feet and attract helpful feedback at an early stage. We hope that Amazon Studios will help filmmakers experiment and collaborate and we look forward to developing hit movies.
Later called the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon announces its third generation reading device. At $139 for a Wi-Fi only version and $189 with 3G, the K3, as some have called it, is according to Jeff Bezos:
… smaller, lighter, and faster, with 50 percent better contrast. Readers are going to do a double take when they see Kindle’s bright new screen and feel how remarkably light the smaller 8.7 ounce design feels in one hand.